By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

AMD just wrapped up its Capsaicin & Cream 2017 event today to show developers and fans alike what’s next for the graphics technology firm – as well as its latest partner: Fallout series creator Bethesda Softworks.

Held during this year’s Game Developer Conference, the event teased not just some of the features coming to the AMD Vega GPU architecture – its cards to now be known as Radeon RX Vega. But, perhaps most importantly, AMD also revealed the company’s newly made alliance with Bethesda.

Known for putting out games such as Fallout 4, Doom, and the Elder Scrolls series, Bethesda is teaming up with AMD in a long-term strategic partnership in an effort to further its PC gaming technologies.

More important than even a melding of mutual minds in the realm of PC gaming, AMD’s partnership with Bethesda looks to spell better-optimized games for PCs running the publishers games past, present and future.

The new name for AMD’s future graphics cards

GPUpping the ante

Specifically, one aim of the partnership is to “develop and accelerate” the adoption of lower-overhead APIs like Vulkan, (which was first implemented in a AAA-budget game last year with DOOM, according to a press release.)

AMD hopes buddying up with Bethesda will maximize the capabilities and computing power of its GPUs, including its AMD Ryzen and Vega cards, across the game maker’s library of titles. 

“Working independently, game developers and graphics companies will eventually address the challenges of this new era of gaming,” said AMD senior vice president and chief architect Raja Koduri, “but working in close collaboration, the pace of that progress can advance exponentially.” 

This means Bethesda games could potentially receive improved performance on computers running AMD tech, though exact details of how this would be accomplished (and when) were not provided. 

But what about Vega?

While noticeably lacking in any hard details like price or release date for AMD’s Vega technology, the announcement still demonstrated a healthy number of the upcoming GPU’s talents.

Designed with VR and 4K UHD gaming in mind throughout, Vega will feature High Bandwidth Cache Controller (HBCC) features to lower strain on graphically-intensive games and Rapid Packed Math (RPM) capabilities to cram exponentially more details into a frame, like individual strands of hair.

Vega will also be part of another AMD partnership, this time with LiquidSky – a game streaming service that plans to use Vega tech to beam top-tier games to not-so-powerful devices, like low-spec Windows laptops or even Android phones.

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Welcome to the home of the best MacBook Pro deals. Here at TechRadar, we check around for the best MacBook Pro prices everyday at the top retailers on the net. So you’re certainly in the right place to save money on your new Apple laptop.

The MacBook Pro has become the go to laptop range for professionals and enthusiasts alike, absolutely powering through tasks regular laptops fear. Apple’s staggering lineup of Retina screens lead the way for crisp visuals and the increasingly excellent physical design of the laptops themselves has seen the latest Macbook Pro usurp the svelte form of the MacBook Air. You want the best there is, but there’s no reason to pay more than you should for it.

2016 was crying out for a refresh of the MacBook Pro and Apple once again come up with something rather special. In addition to the internal spec getting a long awaited upgrade and that gorgeous Retina display (available in 13-inch and 15-inch flavours), Apple has introduced their long-rumoured Touch Bar technology. This mini-LED display replaces the Function keys and comes up with different touch display controls for an increasing number of programs. Uses so far include Safari bookmarks, predictive text, search field, emojis, photo galleries or even more intensive actions like photo editing or mixing records. Simple, yet innovative. Expect rival firms to start copying it soon.

This new 13-inch MacBook Pro is the cheapest way to get your hands on one of Apple’s latest laptops, released in late 2016. This is the lightest MacBook Pro ever made, but still packs an incredible punch with 2.0GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 or 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor options. You don’t get the new Touch Bar on this version, but you do get a Retina display and the new larger trackpad. Prices start around $1,499/£1,449/AU$2,199. Stay updated on the latest prices in the comparison chart below.

The 2015 MacBook Pro didn’t undergo a dramatic reimagining, but then there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it in the first place. Improvements to its performance mean it’s better value than before, and the noticeably improved battery life makes it even more of a mobile workhorse. As ever the cost of adding memory and storage soon sends the price tag into orbit, but even the stock MacBook Pro is an incredibly versatile computer and arguably Apple’s best ever laptop. Newer MacBooks may be more portable, but the Pro has all the power. 

If you’re looking for the larger-sized laptop experience in the MacBook range, you’ll be wanting to take a look at the seriously impressive specs of the 2015 model 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. The Intel Core i7 2.5 Ghz processor combined with 16GB of RAM will make light work of anything you can throw at it. 512GB of super fast flash storage, a new Force Touch trackpad and that incredible four million pixel-packing display make this one of the best laptops in the business.

There’s plenty to like on the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display: from the still-impressive display to its excellent build quality, great keyboard and good (but not excellent) battery life. It may not be as portable as the MacBook Air, but it’s far from cumbersome and its top notch build quality means you won’t be worried about its welfare when carrying it around. 

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Rumors that Nvidia is about to unveil its powerful GTX 1080 Ti graphics card have been swirling, with many suggesting that an event held in San Francisco on February 28 by the GPU maker would see it officially announced – and it looks like the company may have accidentally spilled the beans early. 

In a bid to drum up more hype for the event (if any more was needed), Nvidia’s UK Twitter account tweeted a link with the words ‘It’s almost Time. #UltimateGeForce’. 

As if bolding the ‘Ti’ in ‘TIME’ wasn’t enough of a clue, people who visited the website and viewed the page source saw that the video was labelled ‘GTX1080Ti_countdown’. 

This has since been changed, but the cat appears to be out of the bag. So, has Nvidia spoiled its own surprise? Maybe not, as the emphasis on ‘Ti’ in ‘Time’ all but confirmed it anyway. We’re attending the event on February 28, so we’ll update you with any more breaking news on what Nvidia has in store.

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Apple’s futuristic ‘Campus’ HQ will finally open its doors to employees this April under its new name, ‘Apple Park’, situated in California’s Santa Clara Valley.

While there’s no word yet on whether or not it has a T-Rex, it will have a heartfelt homage to former Apple boss Steve Jobs. Jobs, who helped in the early stages of the site’s development, will have the 175-acre campus’s 1,000 seater theater named after him.

The Park, replacing Apple’s current One Infinite Loop base of operations, is fully powered by renewable energy, with its spaceship-like design measuring up at 2.8 million square feet of space.

‘The home of innovation’

“Steve’s vision for Apple stretched far beyond his time with us. He intended Apple Park to be the home of innovation for generations to come,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. 

“The workspaces and parklands are designed to inspire our team as well as benefit the environment. We’ve achieved one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the world and the campus will run entirely on renewable energy.”

“Steve invested so much of his energy creating and supporting vital, creative environments,” added  Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer.  

“We have approached the design, engineering and making of our new campus with the same enthusiasm and design principles that characterize our products.”

If a job at Apple didn’t already seem like a dream, the Apple Park has some great perks or its employees, with a 100,000 square-foot fitness center, apple orchards (obviously) and running paths to explore. 

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

This article was provided to TechRadar by Linux Format, the number one magazine to boost your knowledge on Linux, open source developments, distro releases and much more. Subscribe to the print or digital version of Linux Format here.

You don’t have to manage a large corporate network to use a dedicated firewall. While your Linux distro will have an impressive firewall – and an equally impressive arsenal of tools to manage it – the advantages don’t extend to the other devices on your network. A typical network has more devices connected to the internet than the total number of computers and laptops in your SOHO. With the onslaught of IoT, it won’t be long before your router doles out IP addresses to your washing machine and microwave as well.

The one thing you wouldn’t want in this Jetsonian future is having to rely on your router’s limited firewall capabilities to shield your house – and everyone in it – from the malicious bits and bytes floating about on the internet.

A dedicated firewall stands between the internet and internal network, sanitising the traffic flowing into the latter. Setting one up is an involved process both in terms of assembling the hardware and configuring the software. However, there are quite a few distros that help you set up a dedicated firewall with ease, and we’re going to look at the ones that have the best protective open source software and roll them into a convenient and easy to use package.

Specifically, in this roundup, we’re going to dissect and compare five different distros: IPFire, OPNsense, pfSense, Sophos UTM and Untangle NG Firewall.

How we tested

While you can test these firewall distros on a spare physical PC, it’s rather convenient to take them for a spin inside a virtual machine. We created a virtual network by firing up VirtualBox and heading to File > Preferences > Network. Then switched to the host-only networks tab and added a new network – using the screwdriver icon to give it the address 192.168.56.1.

Next, we created a VM for the firewall distro and made sure it had two network adaptors – the first one in bridged mode, the second one as a host-only network. After installing the distro, we assigned 192.168.56.2 as the IP address of the second adaptor and configured it as a DHCP server that assigns IPs between 192.168.56.20 – 192.168.56.50. From here on out, any other VM connected to the host-only adaptor will be routed through the firewall VM. Phew.

The IPfire kernel is hardened with the grsecurity patchset to thwart zero-day exploits and comes with strict access controls. The distro can also divide networks based on their respective security levels and enables you to create custom policies to manage each network. For more elaborate control, you can also manage outbound access to the Internet from any segment.

IPfire uses a Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) firewall that’s built on top of the utility netfilter that facilities Network Address Translation (NAT), packet filtering and packet mangling. You can set up the firewall for everything from forwarding ports to creating a DMZ. The project’s wiki also hosts a best practices guide to create firewall rules for common scenarios.

The pfSense distro also uses a stateful firewall and can filter traffic by source and destination IP, IP protocol, and source and destination port for TCP and UDP traffic. It offers various options for handling the different states including the keep state which is used by default for all rules and works with all protocols as well as the sloppy state which works only for TCP traffic. It also allows you to limit simultaneous connections for every rule.

The pfSense distro uses the p0f OS fingerprinting utility to allow you to filter traffic based on the operating system initiating the connection. You can also decide to log (or not) traffic matching each rule. The OPNsense distro was forked from pfSense and offers pretty much the same features for the firewall and other aspects of the system.

Sophos UTM, unlike the other distros, cuts off all traffic and then enables you to allow specific type of traffic, such as web and email, during initial setup. The server also includes an innovative category-based web filter that blocks sites based on the type of content and includes categories, such as Drugs, Medicine, Nudity, Ordering, Weapons. It also offers to scan websites and emails sent over POP3 for viruses.

Untangle’s hosted firewall can be set up through an easy to use interface that makes it very straightforward and simple to define rules for firewalling traffic. You can also gain granular control over the traffic by defining complex rules that combine multiple parameters. This might seem like quite an involved process, but it’s made more accessible by abundant use of relevant pull-down menus.

Verdict

  • IPFire: 4/5
  • OPNsense: 4/5
  • pfSense: 4/5
  • Sophos UTM: 5/5
  • Untangle NG Firewall: 4/5

All the distros in this roundup bundle a lot of other functionality besides the firewall. Some distros offer these features as free add-ons while others charge for this additional functionality. While we’ll list all the functionality provided by each distro, in order to be fair to the FOSS distros, we’ll rate all of them based on the modules that are available without any charge.

IPFire can be used as: a VPN gateway; an infrastructure server; a content filter; a proxy server; a caching name server; and an update accelerator etc. When used as an internet gateway the distro can connect to the internet through various technologies, including all popular types of broadband access, as well as mobile access, including VDSL, ADSL, Ethernet and 3G/4G.

Some of the interesting uses for both pfSense and OPNsense are as a traffic shaper, load balancer and VPN. They both offer three options for VPN connectivity including IPsec, OpenVPN and PPTP. Similarly, you can use the Sophos UTM server as a site-to-site VPN solution and configure it to handle VoIP connections and balance load.

Untangle doesn’t ship with any components pre-installed but its recommended package installs over a dozen applications and services including: web filter; virus blocker; spam blocker; bandwidth control; application control; captive portal; WAN balancer; and a firewall among others. Some of the applications that Untangle doesn’t install are the ad blocker, intrusion prevention and web cache. Also unlike the other distros, some of the Untangle applications are paid-for options that only install a 14-day trial version.

Verdict

  • IPFire: 5/5
  • OPNsense: 5/5
  • pfSense: 5/5
  • Sophos UTM: 5/5
  • Untangle NG Firewall: 3/5

While servers require more involvement and active maintenance, some aspects of the installation process are, in fact, streamlined, i.e. a server distro is designed to take over an entire hard disk which eradicates the need to define partitions. The firewall distros in this roundup go to great lengths to help you mould the installation as per your network configuration. All of them use browser-based interfaces that can be used to monitor and modify the various components of the firewall. 

Having a graphical interface is crucial as a technologically sound base isn’t enough by itself, since a convoluted or illogically arranged management interface will have a direct bearing on a distro’s usability and prevent users from getting the most out of it.

We’ll break this slide down into mini-reviews of the deployment experience, starting with…

IPFire

IPFire is written from scratch and has a straightforward installation process. The installer will detect the number of NICs attached to the computer and ask you to assign them to one of the four colour-coded zones. Each of these zones caters to a group of machines that share a common security level. Later on you’ll be asked to assign an IP address to the NIC that’s connected to your internal network and will dole out IP address via DHCP.

Once you’ve installed the distro, fire up its browser-based admin interface which is available on the IP address you assigned to the NIC connected to the local network. Head to the Firewall section in the admin interface to define the rules for the firewall. While the interface is simple to use, it requires some expertise for effective deployment and some time spent with IPFire’s documentation.

Score: 3/5

OPNsense

This distro was forked from pfSense and follows the same straightforward installation procedure. After installation, the distro boots to the command-line dashboard which also includes the address of the browser-based admin console. The admin interface is the one major visible difference between the distro and its progenitor. The interface takes you through a brief set up wizard prompting you for information about your network.

Once it’s rebooted with the right settings, head to the Rules section under Firewall. The rules definition interface is presented logically and includes a switch to display relevant help information to explain the various settings. Similarly, configuring the other components of the firewall distro is also a relatively intuitive process. Since the distro has a vast number of settings, you can enter keywords in the search box at the top of the interface to locate the relevant setting.

Score: 4/5

pfSense

The FreeBSD-based distros, pfSense and OPNsense, use the same fairly automated installers, though the original pfSense version offers more advanced options, including the ability to install a custom kernel. Again, just like OPNsense, pfSense boots to a console-based interface that gives you the option to configure the network interfaces on the installed machine.

Once they are all set up and configured, a browser-based console takes the user through a set up wizard. The interface isn’t the most pleasing to look at, i.e. the page for adding a new firewall rule is verbose and only contains links for relevant documentation, which are designed to help new users. The distro requires you to put some time into learning it, especially if you’re going to use the add-on packages, but the documentation is worth its weight in gold (if printed out).

Score: 3/5

Sophos UTM

Originally known as the Astaro Security Gateway, you have to download the ISO for Sophos UTM, register on the project’s website and get a user licence which you’ll have to upload to the server when configuring it. During installation, Sophos asks you to select the NIC connected to the internal network and assign it an IP address, which you can use to access the distro’s browser-based admin interface. Users are also asked to permit installation of some proprietary components which has to be agreed to in order to use the distro.

Once installed, users are expected to bring up a browser-based management interface and run through the brief setup during which they will be asked to upload their licence. Sophos then locks down all traffic and enables you to poke holes for the type of traffic you wish to allow during the initial setup.

Score: 5/5

Untangle NG Firewall

The Debian-based distro is very easy to set up and is the only distro in this roundup which restarts after install into a web-based setup wizard. You’re asked to set the password for the admin user, then point to and configure the two networks cards – one that connects to the internet and the other the local network.

When setup is complete, Untangle prompts you to create a free account in order to configure the server. You’ll then have to install applications, such as the firewall, to infuse that functionality into the server. Almost all the applications are preconfigured and run automatically after install. You can also configure each application by clicking the ‘Settings’ button under it. Untangle’s dashboard also enables you to analyse the traffic passing through the server, and each application will show statistics for its own traffic as well.

Score: 4/5

Virtually all the distros in this roundup offer a host of paid services. IPFire offers paid support through Lightening Wire Labs which provides custom solutions to enterprises that use IPFire. The company also offers customised hardware appliances that integrate well with your infrastructure.

OPNsense has multiple commercial support options. The annual subscription to the business support package costs €299 (£255). There are also professional services designed for larger deployments, integrations and custom changes to the distro.

You can also purchase support packages for your pfSense deployment which includes technical support, configuration assistance and a configuration review. The pfSense project also conducts training with the cheapest course starting at £699.

Besides retailing a version of the Sophos UTM for larger organisations, Sophos offers support packages via its resellers. The firm also offers over 40 online and offline training courses on different aspects of the distro. The fee for the courses vary but an introductory two-hour webinar costs $249 (£200).

Untangle retails several components to extend the functionality of the firewall distro. If you purchase the complete package it costs $55 (£44) a month. Untangle also sells several hardware appliances with the firewall server pre-installed that range from $399 (£320) to $7,599 (£6,080).

Verdict

  • IPFire: 5/5
  • OPNsense: 5/5
  • pfSense: 5/5
  • Sophos UTM: 5/5
  • Untangle NG Firewall: 5/5

Just like paid services, all projects behind the firewall distros in this roundup offer a hefty amount of documentation and support in the form of guides, wikis and forums to handhold you through common deployment.

The IPFire project hosts detailed documentation in wikis, as well as its English and German forum boards in addition to the IRC channel and dedicated mailing lists. OPNsense also has forums, a wiki, IRC and very detailed documentation covering every aspect of deployment. Furthermore, the project has over a dozen how-to’s on popular configurations/setups, such as configuring traffic shaping, web filtering and setting up a guest network etc.

The best source of documentation for the pfSense distro is its handbook which comes with a Gold Membership subscription. Besides this there’s a wiki, forums, mailing lists and IRC. The wiki hosts a large collection of how-tos, most of which are clear and to the point. The project developers are also very active on social networks, such as Reddit, where users can seek help.

The Sophos website hosts PDFs of the quick-start guide and a 600-page administrator’s guide, in addition to community supported bulletin boards. There’s also the Sophos Knowledge Base, which hosts articles on different aspects of the distro. Finally, the Untangle project also hosts forums, a FAQ, and its wiki pages have screenshots where applicable, and some short tutorials.

Verdict

  • IPFire: 5/5
  • OPNsense: 5/5
  • pfSense: 5/5
  • Sophos UTM: 5/5
  • Untangle NG Firewall: 5/5

A firewall server – just like any other server – needs constant upkeep, whether it’s to install updates or new add-ons. IPFire ships with Pakfire, an extensive package management utility that makes it fairly simple to flesh out the basic installation. The package manager also enables updates to address security issues.

Similarly, pfSense also includes a package manager which can be used to install and update packages. The packages are grouped under categories, such as Services and Utility, Security and so forth, and include a wide range of applications, such as Asterisk, Dansguardian, FreeRadius2, Snort, Squid and a lot more. The distro is configured to automatically install new versions of firmware and includes a host of diagnostic tools and utilities to troubleshoot the installation.

OPNsense also contains a package manager but doesn’t offer as many packages as you get with pfSense. However, like pfSense, it too can fetch and install updates for all the installed components.

There’s no package management option in Sophos UTM as all features are shipped in the distro and you can enable them as required. The distro includes the Up2Date utility for installing updates to the firewall’s firmware as well as for fetching newer patterns for components, such as the antivirus and the IPS.

With Untangle you have to use the interface to fetch any of the required components. There’s the Reports application which monitors and prepares detailed and visually appealing reports about the server as well as its different components. The distro also includes the ability to update the installation and its components. You can configure it to install updates automatically while setting up the distro and use the web interface to customise the schedule for the automatic updates.

Verdict

  • IPFire: 5/5
  • OPNsense: 4/5
  • pfSense: 5/5
  • Sophos UTM: 4/5
  • Untangle NG Firewall: 5/5

While IPFire is based on Linux From Scratch, it has borrowed the browser-based interface from the IPCop distro. The interface has a simple and easy to navigate layout with the different aspects of the firewall server grouped under tabs listed at the top of the page. The System tab houses options that influence the entire install. This is where you’ll find the option to enable SSH access and create a backup ISO image of the installation with or without the log files. The Status tab gives an overview of the various components while the Services tab enables you to enable and configure individual services besides the firewall.

The dashboard in pfSense is more verbose than IPFire’s but has pretty much the same layout. The Firewall drop-down menu houses options to define the filtering rules as well as configure the traffic shaper. Settings for other services, such as the load balancer and captive portal, are housed under the Services menu. VPN gets its own menu and enables you to configure the various supported VPN protocols. The CLI console on the firewall server displays a dashboard of a sorts as well. In addition to the addresses assigned to the different NICs, it allows you to reset the configuration of the install to the default state and even upgrade the install.

Sophos UTM also has a loaded dashboard interface. Among other things, it displays information about the threats that firewall components have blocked in the last 24 hours. You can also use the Search box to narrow down the list of options.

OPNsense has a more refined interface than pfSense. Certain sections, such as when adding firewall rules, include a toggle labelled full help. When enabled, this option appends relevant information to all fields to help users make the right selection.

Untangle also has a polished interface. Once you’ve installed an application, it’s enabled automatically and listed in the app rack. Each app has a ‘Settings’ button for tweaking parameters and the rack also supplies a snapshot of traffic it has processed.

Verdict

  • IPFire: 3/5
  • OPNsense: 4/5
  • pfSense: 2/5
  • Sophos UTM: 4/5
  • Untangle NG Firewall: 4/5

Deploying a server is as much about personal preference as it is about a product’s technical dexterity. Despite our objective testing, the results and our recommendation are influenced by our own preferences. Also, all firewall servers offer much the same functionality, but since this is delivered by different applications, one product might do a certain task better than the others.

The one distro we definitely won’t be recommending is Untangle. But that isn’t a reflection of its technical inferiority, rather the availability of similar functions from its competitors at no cost. A majority of Untangle’s apps in the free version are 14-day trials. Moreover, even with the paid components the distro doesn’t offer anything compelling over the others.

We’ve docked pfSense a few points for similar reasons. The distro is a tweaker’s paradise. You can flesh out this distro into any kind of server. However, unless you’re used to its tools and FreeBSD underpinnings, it’ll only end up confusing you with a myriad of options. A better approach to pfSense, comes from its fork OPNsense, which has a nicer user interface and rewritten components, such as the captive portal.

The runner-up spot goes to IPFire which has an impressive list of features. Of note is its Pakfire package management system that helps update and flesh out the install. The distro’s UI also makes it easier to configure several components, such as OpenVPN, when compared with the other distros.

The top honour goes to Sophos UTM which is free for managing a network of up to 50 IP addresses, and bundles the Sophos Endpoint Protection for up to 10 computers. The distro bundles an impressive list of tools many of which are the same as the distro’s paid enterprise edition. We also like that the distro enables the firewall as soon as it’s installed, and allows you to poke holes in the firewall to enable the flow of required traffic. Not only is this the proper way to deploy a firewall, the Sophos wizard makes it easier for inexperienced users to reap the benefits from the get-go.

So, our final rankings are as follows:

1st Place: Sophos UTM – bundles all the essential features with an intuitive UI.

Overall score: 4/5

Web: https://www.sophos.com

2nd Place: IPFire – a secure and expandable distro with a functional management interface.

Overall score: 4/5

Web: http://www.ipfire.org

3rd Place: OPNsense – all the benefits of pfSense with a reimagined UI.

Overall score: 4/5 

Web: https://opnsense.org

4th Place: pfSense – feature rich and fully functional distro but with an archaic interface.

Overall score: 3/5

Web: https://www.pfsense.org

5th Place: Untangle NG Firewall – the free version is little more than a demo for the paid version.

Overall score: 2/5

Web: https://www.untangle.com

Two popular firewall distros we didn’t include in this roundup are Smoothwall Express and IPCop. Both haven’t had a stable release in quite a while, but IPCop is being actively worked on and will be putting out a new release soon. Then there’s also the feature-restricted community edition of the Endian Firewall as well as the Zeroshell firewall router distro for embedded devices. You can also add firewall functionality to your existing gateway server. ClearOS and Zentyal are two gateway servers that are used as firewalls as well.

On the other hand, if you are the DIY type, you can build your own firewall appliance as well with little effort. One approach would be to use an ARM-based plug computer or a Raspberry Pi and install a minimal Linux distro, such as Arch Linux, and then use the built-in iptables firewall. To assist you with creating and managing rules, you could also use a graphical tool such as Shorewall. The other approach is to either install and use Ubuntu’s UFW tool for managing iptables or use its graphical cousin, GUFW.

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Do you own a fingerprint scanner-toting Samsung Galaxy phone and a Windows 10 computer? If so, you might soon be able to unlock that PC with your handset’s digit reader.

This will allegedly happen via Samsung’s Flow app (for W10), which already allows Galaxy TabPro S users to unlock their tablet in this manner, but Samsung has decided to expand it to cover all Windows 10 PCs, according to a report on Sammobile.

Apparently there’s been some considerable cajoling to see this feature rolled out more widely, and Samsung support confirmed to a customer that the Flow app will be rejigged for fingerprint reader support across the board after the Creators Update arrives for Windows 10 (which should be in April).

Biometric boom

Biometric authentication is becoming increasingly prevalent thanks to Windows Hello, which is part of Windows 10’s all-round tighter security – it lets you log in securely with a fingerprint sensor or webcam (facial recognition).

Of course, if you haven’t got a fingerprint reader built into your laptop, then using a partner mobile device which has a sensor, such as a Samsung phone, is a pretty handy solution.

It’s not surprising that in this climate of security fears – driven by the likes of botnets, hackers and data breaches aplenty – that stronger biometric authentication is on the rise.

Indeed, as we reported last fall, Google is looking to introduce fingerprint scanners to its Chromebooks, and the notebook rumor mill recently asserted that this functionality has now been baked into preview versions of Chrome OS.

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AOC has revealed a pair of new curved gaming monitors which benefit from a ‘three-sides frameless’ design, along with AMD’s FreeSync technology.

The two new Agon models are 31.5-inch (AG322QCX) and 27-inch (AG272FCX) in size, with screens that boast a curvature of 1800mm, the most pronounced curve the Agon range has seen yet for the maximum effect in terms of producing an immersive gaming experience.

And that immersion is boosted further by the frameless design on three sides – meaning all the edges are extremely thin save for the bottom bezel, as you can see from the image above (note that Phillips revealed a monitor which uses this trick last week, as well).

These are 16:9 aspect ratio monitors (not ultra-wide or 21:9, as is often the case with larger curved screens) built with VA panels offering a Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution in the case of the smaller model, and 2560 x 1440-pixels for the larger 31.5-inch display.

Both have a refresh rate of 144Hz, along with a response time of 4ms, and FreeSync tech which eliminates stuttering and tearing for a smoother frame-rate all-round.

Losing the lag

You also get the usual features AOC has been incorporating into its monitors for a while now: a ‘low input lag mode’ that enables your keyboard/mouse actions to be translated to the screen with minimal delay, and ‘shadow control’ which lightens dark areas, helping you spot snipers lurking in the shadows (without washing out the rest of the image).

The monitors also benefit from AOC’s QuickSwitch controller, a nifty little separate keypad for quickly tweaking display settings, along with preset modes for different gaming genres (shooter, racing, RTS and so forth).

You also get a carrying handle, headset holder, and LED lights on the lower bezel and rear of the monitor (with three color choices: red, green or blue). Furthermore, an ergonomic stand gives you height, tilt and swivel adjustment.

Connectivity comprises of a pair of HDMI ports, a DisplayPort (there are two of these on the larger monitor) and a legacy VGA connector. You also get a pair of USB 3.0 ports.

Both the Agon AG322QCX and AG272FCX will be out in May priced at £519 (around $650, AU$840) and £389 (around $485, AU$630) respectively.

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

AMD’s new range of processors, the Ryzen series, look like they’ll be coming out very soon, and we’ve now got a good idea of the motherboards that will be releasing alongside the CPUs. 

The Videocardz website has revealed a huge gallery of upcoming motherboards from a range of manufacturers, such as ASRock, Asus and Gigabyte. 

The Ryzen series of CPUs comes in five chipsets: the X370 and X300 chipsets (for enthusiasts and gamers who value power and top-of-the-range features above all else), the B350 (for mainstream users, so balances power and value for money), the A320 (for more simple, plug and play PCs), and the A300 (for small form factor PCs such as Home Theater PCs). 

All chipsets are well represented with the motherboards revealed by Videocardz – check out the gallery below for the photos and specs of all the Ryzen motherboards we know about so far.

Ryzan motherboards

Via wccftech

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

It’s very likely that Nvidia will soon launch the GTX 1080 Ti graphics card, a powerful follow-up to last year’s GTX 1080.

It’s expected to boast even more power to push cutting-edge gaming graphics in native 4K resolution, and while it’s likely to be based on the same Pascal GPU architecture as the GTX 1080, it should still be a decent upgrade over the older (yet still very powerful) GPU.

We’re assuming that Nvidia continues its pattern of releasing a mainline GPU series (along with an incredibly powerful Titan variant) one year, then following up with a more powerful Ti variant the next year.

So, if you’re looking forward to a GPU that’s more powerful than the GTX 1080, and more affordable than the Titan X, then read on to find out all the news, rumors and release date information we know so far about the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The latest addition to Nvidia’s top of the range graphics cards
  • When’s it out? Recent rumors suggest late March 2017
  • What will it cost? Quite a bit, probably over $600 (£500, AU$800)

Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti release date

Hottest leaks:

  • Could be announced on February 28
  • Rumors point to late March release

Going by previous release schedules we expect Nvidia to unveil the GTX 1080 Ti in the first half of 2017, and recent rumors appear to back this up.

Nvidia has sent out invitations for a press event in San Francisco on February 28, promising a showcase of ‘awesome’ PC gaming hardware – so it’s very possible that this is the date when Nvidia will reveal the GTX 1080 Ti.

The timing of this coincides with the Game Developers Conference (GDC), also held in San Francisco, and AMD is likely to announce its rival graphics cards using the Vega architecture, so Nvidia may be looking to steal some of AMD’s thunder.

There have also been rumours that the GTX 1080 Ti will make an appearance at PAX East in Boston a few weeks later, on March 10.

Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti price

Hottest leaks:

  • Between $600 and $1,200 (£500 and £1,100, AU$800 and $1,500)

There haven’t been a huge amount of leaks or rumors about the price of the GTX 1080 Ti so far, but that won’t stop us speculating!

We can actually use a bit of educated guesswork to try and figure out the likely price tag of the GTX 1080 Ti. The card is probably going to sit between the GTX 1080 and the Titan X in terms power, so it’s likely the price will be somewhere between those two cards – so between $600 and $1,200 (£500 and £1,100, AU$800 and AU$1,500)

That’s quite a wide price range, but going by previous ‘Ti’ releases we can’t see it being as cheap as the GTX 1080 or as expensive as the Titan X, so we’d say around the $850 (£700, AU$1,100) mark is probable. Sadly, it’s very likely that this is going to be an expensive graphics card.

Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti specs

Hottest leaks:

  • 10GB GDDR5 memory
  • 1503MHz base clock
  • 3,328 CUDA cores

Seeing what Nvidia has up its sleeve when it comes to its latest all-powerful graphics card is always exciting.

Rumors of the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti specifications began swirling last year, with Videocardz.com reporting on a shipping listing for an unnamed graphics card going by the identity PG611 SKU 10, with the PG611 board being equipped with Nvidia’s GP102 GPU, which is also used by the Titan X. 

It also states that the card has 10GB of GDDR memory. That’s a hefty amount, and more than the GTX 1080’s 8GB, although less than the 12GB that comes with the Titan X. 

According to the leak, the 1080 Ti will supposedly have a base clock of 1503MHz (with a boost to 1623MHz) and 3,328 CUDA cores (not much less in comparison to the Titan X’s 3,584 cores, and more than the GTX 1080’s 2,560). 

It’s likely that whatever the spec, Nivida will be looking to make 4K resolution at 60fps (frames per second) on a single GTX 1080 Ti a reality, so we can rest assured that this will be a mightily powerful GPU.

Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti: what we want to see

As we mentioned above, being able to run the latest and greatest games at 3840 × 2160 (4K) resolutions at a rock-steady 60fps on a single card is a very exciting prospect, so we want to see the GTX 1080 Ti being capable of that.

While we’re bracing ourselves for a steep price tag, we can still hope that it will be towards the lower end of our estimates.

Overall, we’d love to see a graphics card that radically pushes gaming graphics and effects forwards, and offers a decent upgrade over the already impressive GTX 1080. 

Will the GTX 1080 Ti manage that, or will we have to wait until next year for the GTX 1100 series? Only time will tell.

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By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

One of the biggest events of the gaming season is happening this weekend, 18-19 February 2017 at Olympia London. 

The PC Gamer Weekender – put on by TechRadar’s publishers – is the place to place some of the latest games, get hands on with the best PC gaming kit and watch and listen to the gaming experts. 

To celebrate the arrival of the show, headline sponsors OMEN by HP have a fantastic prize to give away. 

One lucky winner will get their hands on an OMEN by HP Desktop 870-175na, worth a fantastic £1,499.

This desktop PC is perfect for gaming, offering Nvidia GTX or AMD R9 graphics. The PC is VR ready and its brushed metal chassis and red LED lighting strikes mean it is one that of the best-looking desktops around. 

All you have to do to win is visit the PC Gamer Weekender website and follow the instructions. 

If you still haven’t got your PC Gamer Weekender tickets then head to the site now – there’s still a limited amount available and you’ll get a free game worth £7.99! 

The OMEN by HP desktop will be there and playable at the show. 

Please note: this competition closes Sunday 19 February – so enter quick!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER  

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